Snacks are my favorite thing, outside of meals. It’s a great way to eat stuff when it isn’t mealtime. However, it’s also a great way to eat too MUCH stuff, or the WRONG stuff, or at the wrong time, and if you don’t have a healthy option with you, then you just sort of make a quick run to the deli, and whatever just get Pop Chips cause they’re not fried, so, win, but… actually, I’ll just also grab a Twix okbye.
So, first let’s start with WHEN we should eat snacks. The easy answer is when we’re hungry. But if you’re like me, sometimes this is constantly, and then you need maybe a guideline. I’m a big fan of the “every three hours” rule, which means that while you’re awake, you should be eating either a meal or a snack every three hours. Both Nutritionist #1 and #2 told me that following that rule would help eat more sensibly when it comes to mealtime.
OK WONDERFUL THANKS. SO EGG BURRITO AT 8, SANDWICH AT 11, BURGER AT 2, LASAGNA AT 5, AND STEAK AT 8. AND SUNDAE AT 11.
Oh, good, you’re good at the counting part. Now, part of what can trip people up in this rule is that you still reeeaaally need to make sure you aren’t now eating more than you were before. You want to stick to small snacks, hopefully with some protein, that will fill you up but not blow your calorie intake for the day. The idea behind the “no more than 3 hours without eating” rule is that it helps avoid totally gorging at mealtime because your stomach isn’t completely empty. A lot of people also tout the “boosts your metabolism” and “lets your body know it isn’t starving” benefits, but really if you eat the exact amount of calories in 3 meals vs 3 meals and 2 snacks, you’re going to have the same results. There is zero evidence to support that it actually boosts your metabolism. So if it comes around to “snacktime,” and you are not hungry at all, first of all, WHAT IS THAT LIKE, and second of all, don’t force yourself to eat. Your body isn’t going to start storing fat or whatever because it thinks it’s starving. That is not the reason for the three hour rule. The idea here is that it’s harder for SOME PEOPLE to sensibly eat three meals without needing to eat two burritos at one of them because oh my god it’s been 7 hours and I am, like, STARVING. This is just a handy guideline to avoid those situations, which can happen to the best of us.
So now let’s move on to what those snack should be. Most likely, one of them is going to be a post-workout snack, which is all protein all the time, to repair the muscles you just TOTALLY WAILED ON. I typically eat breakfast an hour or two before my workout, then have a protein smoothie right after. Then I’m good until lunch, so really I’m only filling one snack slot with a “freebie” option. If you’re into calorie counting, you typically want a snack to be around 150 calories. Plenty of options fall within that guideline. Here is a book with some of those options.
SNACKS, by Brittany O’Neill.
- A tablespoon of almond butter with celery sticks
- A tablespoon of almond butter with apple slices
- a 4oz container of 2% cottage cheese with blueberries (or whatever fruit, or just plain)
- A peanut butter cookie larabar (we’ve talked about this. just have them around. there are like 3 ingredients, which is so rare for snack food). Have this with coffee and it’s the BEST afternoon pick-me-up.
- BBQ soy crisps with 4oz of 0% greek yogurt — Nutritionist #2 was all about this one, but soy crisps are one of those things with like a thousand ingredients that we might one day discover are causing cancer? But you know, one thing at a time. If you trust it, have at it — it’s actually super tasty.
- 2 – 3 oz of roasted deli turkey with apple slices (watch out for sodium, I am a terrible resource for watching salt intake… again, one thing at a time, but opt for a low sodium option of any deli meat).
- A banana with a handful of raw walnuts — another one that’s awesome with coffee.
- 2 tablespoons of hummus with cucumber slices or carrot or celery sticks (don’t buy baby carrots, those aren’t real. There is no such thing as baby carrots, they just cut normal carrots to be that shape and then soak them in chlorine. Cut your own damn carrots.)
- A Thomas’ Multigrain 100 calorie English muffin with 3 egg whites and a tomato slice
- A sliced tomato with 1/4 of a sliced avocado and a tiny drizzle of olive oil and salt (if you have that Pam oilve oil spray, shoot some of that on for a second. Just adds a little flavor and something for the salt to stick to). This is like, REALLY good.
- Two Laughing Cow light swiss wedges with apple slices (or celery sticks)
So, those are all unbelievably effing delicious options to eat when you’re hungry but it isn’t time for dinner yet. Most of these are portable, so take them to work or wherever it is that you go during the day, so the next time you want it eat, it’s handy, and you don’t end up spending $7 on a trail mix that’s actually just candy bar ingredients in loose leaf form.